The arrival of high speed rail will be a “watershed” moment for Wigan and its economy, a new report released today claims.
Detailed in a new report released today, the borough could be set for “an integrated HS2 station” at Wigan North Western meaning journey times to London would be cut to 82 minutes.
HS2 would also see an hourly connection to Birmingham taking 35 minutes with the 200mph super-fast route joining the existing West Coast mainline near Golborne.
The report - Changing Britain: HS2 taking root - has been produced by nine local authorities to highlight the benefits of the high-speed rail system.
It claims the towns and cities to be linked on the routes will benefit long before the first train runs due to pre-emptive investment schemes, such as the borough’s Wigan Works and GM spatial framework masterplans.
Coun David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “The potential which HS2 can deliver for Wigan is enormous and it will be a major boost to the regeneration and growth of the borough.
Integrating HS2 services into the existing transport network will spread the benefits as widely as possible across Wigan and neighbouring regions
“By incorporating HS2 into the council’s growth strategy it will have significant impact on our contribution to the growth of GM as a whole over the coming decades.
“Ultimately HS2 will be a catalyst for the regeneration of Wigan’s town centre making it an even more attractive place to live, work and visit.”
“Integrating HS2 services into the existing transport network will spread the benefits as widely as possible across Wigan and neighbouring regions.”
However, the report may not be enough to convince critics of the project who say any extensions north of Birmingham may be shelved due to spiralling costs.
And the so-called “Wigan spur” section of the line, west of the main link to Manchester, has been the subject of speculation that it could be jettisoned.
In any case, barring any further delays, the link up to Wigan may only be realised in more than two decades time.
Wigan Council has already announced proposals to better link Wallgate and North Western stations along with the refurbished bus station.
And the report highlights that with major firms Heinz, Poundland and NicePak already resident in the borough, high-speed rail links would help to attract even more.
HS2 David Higgins chairman said: “As this report and Wigan’s work proves, it is the inter-regional benefits and early planning to harness (the benefits of HS2) which will transform areas such as Wigan in the longer term.”
“Wigan’s early planning to capitalise on HS2 mirrors that of locations on the early phase route from London to Birmingham.”